Larry Carlton recently shared some of his best guitar advice with Music Radar. The longtime Gibson player—known to many as “Mr. 335”—stressed the importance of performing in a club setting, early on, with older players. 

“In junior high school I was playing three nights a week on the weekend with older musicians at a supper club,” he said, “five shows a night. In high school, I had the opportunity to play six nights a week, five sets a night in clubs with older musicians. So, in my junior year, I only went to school four hours a day and I was on what they call a work permit, except the school thought I was working at a music store.” 

Larry Carlton

Carlton also emphasized the importance of listening to—and trying to mimic—the work of great players who’ve come before you. “Probably prior to hearing [jazz great] Joe Pass … I would have heard Barney Kessel, who was a much simpler player than Joe….,” said Carlton. “I learned a lot by listening to those records and then copying them, especially the intros that Barney would use to set up the tunes.” 

For more of Carlton’s tips, click here.